October 2008


      Well, another Halloween is upon us anime fans and we should all rejoice in this once a year opportunity to freely express your wildest cosplay ideas other than at a convention without the questioning glances. Also one of the better aspects of this holiday is all the free goodies you can receive if you still at that age where you still can go trick or treating.

       As you get older, Halloween is one of those holidays where you actually get to have more fun. When you get to your adult Halloween party you get all sorts of good treats such as candy and jello shots, and nothing makes a party more fun than skimpy costumes, and lots of “juice”.

      Below are some Halloween anime and manga themed pictures, and further down you’ll find some suggested Halloween cosplay ideas. Click on Images to view at full size.

Some suggested Halloween cosplay.

       And one final word of advise girls, when your leaving the party never leave alone make sure you take a guy with you or you may run into the following creature, and you know what happens if you get caught by it.

 

       This episode begins with Sora talking with her friend for back home and the issue of whether Sora has found a boyfriend yet comes up. Then Gouta tells Sora that he will take her somewhere in order to show his appreciation for Sora helping him use his powers for the first time.

        So they board a train and Gouta tells Sora that he’s taking her to the sea, and while there are on the train Sora’s says that it looks like there are on a date, Gouta says you don’t have to say “it looks like”. When the get to the sea they do a lot of fun things and they talk about life and magic. Sora asks why Gouta has stopped surfing for now, and he tells her that he can’t use it as an excuse to avoid magic. As Sora and Gouta are walking they start holding hands. Later, Gouta gets a call from Hiyori asking him if he wants to meet her to hang out, but Gouta tells her he’s at the beach with Sora.

       They spend more time by the seaside then they find a lost little boy and they help him find his mother, after the boy (Sota) is returned to his mother Sora and Gouta joke about his name is made up of parts of both their names. After they return the child they do some window shopping, visit a temple, and get their  fortunes, then Gouta takes Sora to the place he wanted to show her. Gouta takes Sora to a restaurant that’s built on a cliff that overlooks the sea, it has a spectacular view of the ocean. As the sun is setting Sora takes Gouta’s hand a places a beautiful gemstone that she found by the sea inside his hand telling him that this gem of the sea is her gift to him.

       Before Sora and Gouta head back home they share a kiss at twilight on a observation deck, and then next day Sora and Gouta are openly holding hands in public. At school the news of Sora and Gouta going to the beach has made it around to everybody, and Gouta gets congratulated by other students for finally being able to use his powers on the dolphin rescue mission. After school a nasty thunderstorm hits the area and when Gouta gets home he views Sora and Hara in a suspicious looking situation from a distance.

      Gouta starts thinking bad thoughts about Sora so as soon as the rain has stopped he wanders around town in a bad mood doing things just to kill time. Then Gouta wanders into a bar (the same one Hara hangs out at) and he orders a strong drink but he gets only served tea, and then he tells the bartender he has nowhere to go back to tonight, the bartender asks Gouta if he wants some food and he says yes. Well, that’s all for this episode.

        This was a really bittersweet episode, the sweet part was watching the budding relationship between Gouta and Sora and it reawaken feelings of melancholy inside me. It made me long for those innocent days of my youth when there was magic in the simple acts of holding your girlfriend’s hand for the first time, and sneaking that first tentative kiss, ahhhhh, to return to sweet days of youth.

       But after drinking in the sweetness of the first part of the episode I felt a slightly bitter aftertaste creeping into my palette. Now it all starts to make sense to me, and I don’t think that I like where it’s heading. Sora’s dead father, her sudden illness, and her mother and friend telling her not to over do it, somethings very wrong with Sora. I know that this is going to tear me up because Sora is one of those perfect girls that can only exist in manga and anime, she a ray of sunshine, and she everything that’s you  right with the world. When I watch Sora’s good and cheerful nature it’s like taking a drink of sweet tea after a long hot day, so as the last three episode come to pass I’ll probably need some tissue paper.

 

         This episode begins with Youhei skipping some classes at school and at lunch Nagisa and Tomoya explain the Mei and Youhei situation to the other girls. Kyou thinks that it’s a bad idea to have Youhei try to rejoin the soccer team, and it’s basically confirmed that the soccer team is a bunch of bullies. Later that afternoon Tomoya asks Mei again if she’ll reconsider the situation and she says “no”.

       So, Mei decides to go to the soccer club to ask them if her brother can rejoin the club, and Tomoya and Nagisa go with her. When Mei asks if her brother can rejoin the club they insult Youhei, and then they insult Nagisa and Tomoya. Later the three of them go to Yukine for some advise on the situation and she asks why was there problems between Youhei and the soccer team, so Tomoya tells her the story of how Youhei was bullied as a first year student until he snapped and got into a fight with the upperclassmen.

        Later that afternoon Youhei shows up to school and Tomoya asks him where he was at and he says that he was doing what he wanted to do. Tomoya tells Youhei that Mei was worried about him, and he says that he doesn’t care because she’s with Tomoya now. Youhei also says that Mei no longer cares about him, at hearing this Tomoya grabs Youhei by the shirt and starts chewing his ass out. A fight almost breaks out between them but it’s broken up by Kyou, Ryou, and Kotomi.

        Later, Mei wants to go back to see the soccer club again, and Tomoya tells Nagisa to go home and he’ll go with Mei. Nagisa refuses to leave even though Tomoya says that a fight or something else could happen, she says that she wants to be there for Mei. So they go and ask the team president for permission to have Youhei rejoin the club, Nagisa and Mei plead Youhei’s case and even Tomoya bows his head pleading Youhei’s case, after listening to their case he tells them to shag balls.

        As the team is training they kick the balls wildly on purpose trying to wear out the three of them, and eventually Mei gets hit by a ball that was targeted at her on purpose. After practice is over Mei goes to see the upperclassmen and they basically reject the idea of Youhei rejoining the team, and they keep insulting him again. Then the president tells Mei that her brother knows exactly what is happening and he won’t do anything, Mei breaks down in tears and they continue to insult her.

        Then the president grabs Mei and begins to hurt her, just as Tomoya says he’s had enough and goes to fight the club members, Youhei shows up and kicks the president for hurting his sister. So all the members that are left in the club room start fighting Youhei. Tomoya tells Nagisa to take Mei and run as he jumps into the fight. After the fight is over Tomoya and Youhei are laying on the ground pretty beat up and Youhei asks if they won the fight but Tomoya says he doesn’t think they lost. Tomoya tells Youhei to apologise to Mei because if he did the right thing none of this would have happened.

        They start arguing and Youhei asks if Tomoya is picking a fight and Tomoya basically says yes, they get up and face each other and neither Nagisa of Mei can stop them. They start kicking the crap out of each other and hurling insults and accusations towards each other and finally Mei and Nagisa break up the fight.

 

       The next day on the way to school Nagisa and Tomoya run into Youhei, and after a few seconds of staring at one another Youhei and Tomoya start laughing at each other. A few days later Youhei receives a letter from Mei and it seems that things are patched up between them. Then Tomoya takes Youhei to meet Akio, “Sanae-chan’s father”, it’s pretty funny to see Youhei’s and Akio reactions when Akio thinks that Youhei is there to steal his wife. Then we get shown a montage of how Youhei and Tomoya first meet and how they became friends. Well, that’s all for this episode.

       Well it was interesting to wrap up the Youhei/Mei story arc, even though this episode patched up the relationship between Youhei and Mei I’m still kind of pissed at him. I didn’t buy his relaxed attitude towards the suggestion that Tomoya was dating and most likely sleeping with his younger sister, the whole it’s OK because it was you and I knew you would take care of her didn’t make any sense to me. I could have bought this line of thinking if Mei was say 17-18 and Tomoya was like maybe 20-21 but it’s totally different because Tomoya is around 17 and Mei is maybe 13, that’s really pushing it.

       But in the end Youhei showed up and did the right thing in defending his sister from the soccer club, and he also did the right thing when he fought Tomoya because he thought Tomoya should have defended his girlfriend Mei. I also like how Tomoya and Youhei were back on good terms the next day, many times in my life I have had bad fights with my friends only to be drinking beers with them in a day or two.

       But what stands out to me about the first few episodes of the ~After Story~ is that they almost have the feeling of being filler episodes. We all know what the real meat of the ending of Clannad will be, but it almost seems that the creative team couldn’t fill out 24-26 episodes dealing with the final conclusion of Nagisa/Tomoya/dream world storyline. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the ~After Story~ episodes so far but what I’ve seen doesn’t strike me as being very important to the final conclusion of the series. Another series that I really loved had the same kind of problems, In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water there were the infamous “Island episodes”, those episodes were know for their poor animation quality (no such problem with Clannad ~After Story~) but they were also considered by fans to be there for filler purposes only, as nothing in them really advanced the story other than allowing the series creators to extend a planned 26 episode series to a 39 episode series. Well, I’ll hold my judgement on whether the ~After Story~ needs 26 episodes or only 13 episodes.  

 

       This episode begins with Judy thinking over her failed romance with Jervis, and she has a terrible dream about her confessing her love to Jervis in New York with her orphan background coming back to haunt her. Judy is so upset over her lost love that she even goes to church to pray, and when Julia and Sallie see her so sad Julia tries to help but Judy just runs off in tears.

       When Judy checks her mail she finds a rejection notice from her publisher explaining that the product she sent in is not up to snuff, and she thinks back to Jervis’s suggestions for improvement. Judy decides to call Jervis because she realizes that her fears about him can’t be true, he would never be like that, but she can’t reach him because he’s on a business trip. Judy gets caught using the phone by Miss Sloan but Julia covers for her. Later, Julia tells Judy to forget Jervis because he just got introduced to the daughter of another bank owner so Julia says that it will probably be a corporate marriage of convenience. Judy tries to blow it off by saying that she never had any feelings for him, and that she was sad about her novel being rejected.

 

       But inside her room Judy has a good cry, and then she asks herself how did a orphan like her expect anything other than what happened? Then Judy reminisces about her experiences with Jervis over the last three years, and concludes that she is alone again just like when she started. Judy tries to concentrate on her school studies but she is still distracted about her broken relationship with Jervis. Then Judy receives a letter from Jervis and just as she is about to throw the letter in the trash she gets called to the office.

 

      Once there she finds out that she has received a letter from her guardian, it contains a check for $100 and he says that if Judy will continue to accept his support throughout high school he’ll drop his objection to her applying for a college scholarship. He also says that the check is a gift for all her hard work she’s done in school, this really lifts Judy’s spirits and makes her really happy. Judy then writes her guardian a heartfelt letter of thanks for his support, and she also tells him she lost her dearest friend but she still has her good friends Sallie and Julia. Then Judy decides to write a farewell letter to Jervis so she opens his letter, and in a written note Jervis says he’s sorry for all the misunderstandings and he wants to meet her a 5pm at the back gate, Judy rushes off to meet him but she’s very late.

 

       When she gets there he’s not at the gate and as Judy is standing there under a street light a car pulls up and Jervis gets out. Judy rushes into Jervis’s arms where she tells him that she cares for and loves him, and he tells her that he loves her too. Judy asks about his arraigned marriage and he tells her that she turned him down before he could do the same. Jervis then takes Judy into his arms and kisses her and then Judy kisses him back, and they stand under the street lights embracing each other. Well, that’s all for this episode.

         After watching this episode of Daddy Long Legs I’m reminded of why I love old school shojo anime so much. This episode brings out or at least confirms the feelings that Judy and Jervis have for each other to the forefront. While Judy tried to come up with reasons that she and Jervis could never be together, such as age, class, and so forth, deep down in her heart she loved Jervis, and the more she tried to deny those feelings the more sad she became.

         Jervis has been attracted to Judy for some time, but he always seemed to hurt her when he tried to be a combination of a close friend and a father figure to her. He spoke more about his concerns for Judy’s future than he truly listened to her hopes and dreams, and as he tried to have her take a more conservative path Judy lost her luster and shine. But I think that Jervis was finely able to put his worries aside and just say I love you to Judy.

       This is classic old school shojo of the highest order, girl loves boy but is unsure or her feelings until it’s almost too late, boy loves girl but he can’t figure it out until he’s almost lost her for good, differences in upbringing and class that seem almost to large to bridge, then it’s all made better with the words “I love you” and a kiss.

 

          This episode begins with everyone eating a meal of fish cooked by Gouta and Sora makes the Miso soup. Sora has recovered for her illness and will be going back to school with Gouta today. Once they get to school they notice that Kuroda still has not returned to class, Sora and Hiyori both hope that he will return to school soon, but Gouta says that he’ll return if the time is right, and Asagi chimes in with the assertion that if he can learn to deal with his failures he’ll come back.

      As the class is about to start, the teacher gets interrupted by a request from the ministry of magic, it seems that a huge pod of dolphins has beached themselves near Tokyo and the ministry requests that the trainees help the rescue workers. The students are give a map to the rescue site and are told to take the train there, the students are accompanied by one instructor. During the train ride to the rescue site they talk about their dreams of the future; Hiyori dreams of opening up a magical branch office in her home town, Asagi dreams of becoming a diplomat so Japan can have better relationship with other Asia nations, Sora dreams of just becoming a mage, Gouta dreams of becoming a professional surfer and traveling the world, and Asagi says that Kuroda told her his dream was to work for the Japanese defense industry.

        Once they arrive at the beach they are given a copy of the magical authorization form, it states that they may use their magic to transport the dolphins far out to the sea so they won’t return to the shore. So, the students head to the shore to begin saving the dolphins, and there are over 100 of them to save. The general plan is to encase the dolphins in a globe of water then move that globe of water very far from the shore so that the dolphins won’t rebeach themselves.

       Enclosing the dolphins in water then moving them such a great distant is very hard work and requires a tremendous amount of concentration. Hiyori seems to do OK but it’s a tough go for her, and Asagi has a tough time until Kuroda shows up and they work side by side. Gouta, while he is slowly learning to use magic, he still doesn’t have the skill to he able to properly control and tap his internal power, but Sora walks up to him and takes his hand and tells him that she’ll use her power to unlock his magical abilities, and soon Gouta is doing just fine.

Asagi’s magic

Hiyori’s magic

Gouta’s magic

 

        After the rescue is finished the kids are very tired and return to their homes for the evening. Gouta is so tired that he’s sleeping at the dinner table, Hara and Saori thank Sora for helping Gouta, Sora tells them that she was worried about Gouta quiting the program. Well, that’s all for this episode.

        Overall this episode was very simple in nature, and only two important things occurred over the course of the thirty minutes. This whole episode was centered around the premise of the whole class of trainees being summoned to help rescue a large pod of beached dolphins.

         On their way to the scene the four main students discuss their hopes and dreams, Sora’s and Hiyori’s dreams are pretty simple and probably easy to achieve while Gouta’s and Asagi’s are more complicated and much more difficult to achieve.

        But the two important events that happened in this episode was first and foremost the return of Kuroda to the training program, he shows up at the beach to help Asagi with her magic, I guess he decided to stop running away from his failings. The second important thing that happened was that Gouta was finally able to access his magical abilities with the help of Sora. When Sora saw Gouta having difficulties with his magic she used the same method that Hara used to help her, she used her own magic to help channel and control Gouta’s untrained magical abilities.

      Also two nice but minor things occurred in this episode; firstly it was nice to see Gouta to smile, the smile he had on his face after his first sucessful use of magic was the first smile that I’ve seen on his face. Secondly, it was interesting to see the students having to save the dolphins, I don’t know if there’s a connectionm, but in the first series a dolphin always appeared when Yume used her magical powers.

         This series continues to impress me with it’s emphasis on plot and character development, and I really love the way this series is animated. I know that this slow paced slice of life style is not for every anime fan but if you want something a little slower where you really get to know the characters than this series is for you, and if it’s not your style than please stay away it will put you to sleep. 

 

        This episode begins with Rui having dreams of everything that has taken place in the past 24 hours or so. When he wakes up in the middle of the night someone grabs him from behind and questions him about the comb and why he’s here, and when the questioner finds out that Rui knows nothing he disappears back into the night.

       Back at home Ran and Midori are awaken by a telephone call from Rin, he’s managed to locate the guy who sold Rui the box, Ran runs out of the house with Midori giving chase.  Once Ran arrives at Rin’s location she quickly verifies that Rin has the right guy, Ran demands to know where he got the box from, he shows Ran and Midori a old warehouse that contains an old chest where he found the box. Once Ran and Midori get close to the chest they get a telepathic impression from the chest, Midori speculates that the chest must be some kind of portal.

      Back in the Edo period Rui gets questioned by the master about his memory, and he also gets told that Okimi has been replaced by another girl because her father is ill. Rui knows that he is being lied too because Okimi told him the other day that her father was murdered. Later on, Rin locks Ran and Midori inside warehouse so they can use the portal, Midori tells Ran that traveling back in time and returning will be difficult but they probably have enough power to do it. Midori and Ran use the letter box and their powers to open the chest and activate the portal transporting them back in time.

      Back in the Edo period Rui confronts the gardener about his late nigh visit but they are both soon drawn to a inner room inside the main house where they witness Kisuke transforming into the darkness demon, but Rui gets caught spying. As Rui is about to be attacked a portal opens above the scene and Ran and Midori drop into the courtyard saving Rui for now. Ran and Rui have an emotional reunion with Rui thanking Ran for coming for him.

        After their reunion, Midori uses her powers to determine that the gardener is really a Constable, he thinks that Ran and Midori are witches because of their powers. Ran tells Rui that they’ll be going back home but Rui tells the girls that if he doesn’t help Okimi then all this trouble would be for nothing. The three of them are lead to the storehouse by the Constable, he tells them that this is the only place a person could be held. When they get inside the storehouse they climb down a latter where they find Okimi/the other Ran, and constable gives her a antidote for the poison that she was given. As Okimi is recovering, the master pulls up the latter trapping the five of them in the basement. He tells them that they can enjoy their eternal stay and that he’ll dispose of them in one shot, but the constable shows him a vial and he tells him that he knows about his darkness demon powers.

       It turns out that the master has been growing darkness demon inside the chest and they he was selling them to the highest bidders, he was using hollowed out combs to deliver the deadly demons to the victims, and Okimi’s father was killed because he found out about the plot. The master takes the letter box and pours out a blue substance into the basement that turns into a gas but Ran and Midori use their power to escape the basement and they give chase to the master.

         Once they confront the master he calls out his estate guards, and they prepare to attack the group. As the Constable is handling the guards the rest of the group goes after the master because they must destroy the darkness demon. Rui asks Ran and Midori to lend him their powers since he can see the true form of the demon, so the three of them attack the master/monster and once he is surrounded by their power the darkness demon’s form is revealed to everyone. After the master is forced to give up the location of Okimi’s sister their combined powers destroy the darkness demon, too Okimi’s great sadness her sister Okae is already dead and buried under the main house.

 

         After Okimi recovers her father’s comb from the master she presents it to Rui with her thanks. Once the two combs are placed together they react with each other and open a portal transporting the three kids back to the present day. Well, that’s all for this episode.

        Well, this episode wraps up a two episode Rui centered story arc and I found this episode to be a very enjoyable 30 minutes. The more I watch of this series the more I come to appreciate Telepathy Shojo Ran, while this series features two girls with magical/telepathic powers they are normal in every other way. Both Ran and Midori are cute for thirteen year old girls but it isn’t taken to the point where they exhibit any Moe or Loli traits.

        Also, the family relationships of the main characters are pretty normal as far as anime goes, Ran lives with a mother and father that both have fairly normal jobs, and she has a older brother Rin and they get along fine and there is no imouto/onii-chan complex, they both respect and care for each other. Midori, while she may live alone, her place is neither messy like Youhei’s place is in the Clannad series, or is it the source of gatherings everyday like in Minami-ke series. Rui lives with his father who is a caring and loving father, we haven’t yet found out about his mother, but there is no conflict like Tomoya has with his father in Clannad.

        I also find the personalities or the main characters to be pretty normal as far as anime goes. Midori is sassy and self-confidant, she has a serious crush on Ran’s brother but she never throws herself at him in improper ways like so many anime girls do, she would be overjoyed if she could just get some alone time with him, and she probably would be happy for a week if she got a little handholding. Ran and Rui are a couple and their relationship is proper for kids who are only 13, a little handholding, a few blush filled glances, and their dates consists of going to flea markets and doing window shopping. Ran’s older brother Rin is a big tough guy, he’s on the Judo team, but he’s not a super skinny pretty boy who looks as cute as a girl, he’s a caring older brother but he doesn’t treat Ran like a porcelain doll. What is Rin’s status with the much younger Midori who is really crushing on him? Well he’s not a dumb guy so he probably notices this but he’s never done anything other than being nice and kind to her, if he has any attraction to Midori he’s never show it, and even if he’s not attracted to her he probably wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, but if a relationship did develop between them I’m sure he’d be a decent guy.

        Overall I find this anime to be a great series for it’s targeted demographic, nice clean characters, good script writing, average to above average animation quality, and the adventures have just enough danger in them to be enjoyable without all the blood and gore found in a lot of current anime.  

 

         This episode begins with us getting to see Kuroda’s first two attempts at his training assignments, and they don’t go very well. Kuroda is very self-confident around his classmates but when he gets around the clients his magic doesn’t go well and he has trouble dealing with people.

 

        Then we get to see what happened between Asagi and Kuroda after the girls went home after visiting Sora. Asagi gets a call from Kuroda, he wants to meet her at a train station. When she gets there he wants to spend time with her, too me it seems like he wants it to be like a date with her. He takes her to a place called Nakano Broadway, it is comprised of four floors of quirky shops and high class apartments. Asagi seems to have a good time with him but she comments that his tastes are closer to Hiyori-chan’s. As the shops are closing she asks him if he wants to say something to her, but all he does is complain about his clients, Asagi gets angry at him and tells him that he is arrogant towards others. Kuroda tells her that she is the same as him but she says that while she does care about her own feelings she does respect and care how others feel, and then she walks off on him.

         The next day as Sora and Gouta are walking to the train station, Gouta asks Sora if she’s ever thought about quitting and going home because he has? Sora tells Gouta that he’s changed, he’s became more mature almost like an adult. At school the kids talk about Kuroda deciding to quit the program and weather they should go visit him, and they talk about how everyone thought he would have it easy. Asagi says that it’s guys like him, people that think they are full of confidence that take failing once or twice very hard.

         Back at Sora’s training house, Sora becomes ill with a bad cold and fever and they have to decide whether to let her rest or take her to the hospital, for now they decide to let her rest. So, Gouta decides to go and see Kuroda without Sora, and along the way he meets Yasuko (the female singer that Sora likes). Later, Hiyori joins Gouta for the trip to visit Kuroda, and once they get there they try to get him to come out of his room, then Asagi shows up and demands that he come out of his room now.

         Asagi yells at Kuroda telling him that she could understand it if it was Gouta who quit because he doesn’t understand magic, but she tells Kuroda that he never really put any effort into his magic or trying to understand people. She also tells him that humans fail, but he tries to argue that he wasn’t wrong. She tells him that at times magic will fail because it comes from humans, and that the important thing is that after a failure you pick yourself up and more on, and that if he runs away now he’ll keep running away. As she’s leaving, she asks him where is that is cocky confidant person that she first meet in school, Kuroda breaks down in tears in side his room but he still doesn’t let them inside.

        While the three kids are waiting at the train station Gouta texts Sora about what happened, and Hiyori tells Gouta that he’s nice and kind. Hiyori seems pretty happy that she’s near Gouta since it’s pretty clear that she’s been attracted to him from the beginning. Gouta tells the two girls that he hopes that Kuroda will change his mind about quitting. Well, that’s all for this episode.

 

        Well, this episode was a Kuroda centered episode but the episode was really about learning to pick yourself off the ground when you fail. When we first meet Kuroda he was very self-confident almost to the point of being arrogant and condescending. Maybe the reason for this was because he has never failed or maybe because he’s always been better than everyone he’s meet before, or as Asagi might conclude, his outward projection is because he doesn’t care or respect how others feel.

       But, my assumption would be is that his arrogant personality is a defense mechanism because he’s not good at relating to people and he really lacks the self-confidence to express how he really feels. This can be demonstrated by how he was unable to tell Asagi how he felt about her when she asked him if he had anything he wanted to tell her. From the beginning of the series you could see that he was attracted to Asagi, you could see how he always looked at her and how he tried to talk to her but he was just too quiet to be noticed. Well, I for one hope that he can pick his ass off the ground and get back to school.

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